Let's talk doodles
Doodles have quickly become the must have dog, with their sweet temperments, high intelligence, and beautiful wavy or curly coats. Whether you have a Goldendoodle, Labradoodle, Bernadoodle, Aussiedoodle, Cavapoo, Maltipoo, Cockapoo, Shipoo, or some other combination, we are ready to groom them. We are also here to help you understand the maintenance and conditioning required to keep your dog at the desired length.
Why we need to educate
We are consistently seeing owners come in with no information provided from the breeders on grooming. This leads to a dog that has not been maintained and is matted beyond saving. It is disheartening to us when we are left with no choice but to do a short puppy cut and have an owner leaving disappointed. Our goal is to give you the look you want, but our motto is to do right by the dog. We love being able to do both.
A variety of coats
Mixing poodles with all these breeds has created a wide range of coats. Your dog can have a wiry or a soft coat, a thin or thick coat, a minimal amount of hair or a mountain load, and be wavy or super tight ringlet curls, or anywhere in between. You technically have a mixed breed dog which means there is no standard conformity. On top of all this, your dog's puppy coat may not be indicative of its adult coat at all. You may start with a super relaxed wavy coat, and about a year in it turns into tight curls. Don't worry, we are here to help navigate you from puppy to adult coat and all the grooming needed in between.
Let's start at the beginning
Your doodle puppy should have it's first groom around 3 months. This may just entail a bath, nail trim, and clean up of some areas, but will help them acclimate to the grooming environment. Their first full groom usually happens around 5 months. Through the first year we do not pre-book your next appointment or set a grooming schedule, as puppies tend to grow in spurts and therefore are harder to predict when they will need the next appointment. When they get fluffy and you can't see their eyes, call us and we'll get you right in.
We will show you the grooming tools you need for home and how to use them to keep up between groomings and teach your dog that grooming is part of their everyday life. Doodles need extensive grooming in their lifetime, and being a very intelligent breed, it is crucial to start them on this journey early and make it enjoyable. More often than not we are seeing that doodle owners wait until 6 months or longer to bring them in for their first groom, and by then they are matted and it is an uncomfortable experience for them. Sadly, this has led to a large uptick in dogs needing sedation grooming due to bad behaviors because they were not properly introduced to grooming.
Grooming is a learned skill just like every other training you do with your puppy. Our goal is to see your puppy early and often, get them to love us while teaching them how the grooming process works. We never 'muscle' a puppy that won't stay still to get the perfect groom. We strive to get them neat and clean each visit as the 'training' progresses.
What is matting?
Matting is a network of knots. Mats attach to the skin and ultimately damage the skin by restricting blood flow and air. Mats can also trap moisture and urine near the pet's skin allowing mold, fungus, yeast, and bacteria to grow.
Mats are painful to your pup when they are removed. Everyday we see mats that peel the skin right off as they are being removed, or leave swollen, irritated skin as the blood flow returns to that area, leaving dogs to want to scratch or lick at the site.
Our goal will always be to put your pet’s comfort above all else, and will not cause serious or undue stress to your pet by dematting. Removing a heavily matted coat can cause nicks, cuts or abrasions, After-effects of mat removal can include swelling, itchiness, and skin redness.
This link will give you a better understanding of your dog's coat and has all the FAQ of matting and I encourage all doodle owners to read it: Preventing Mats and Tangles .
The Transition (Coat Change)
Your doodle puppy will lose it's puppy coat anywhere from 8-14 months. You can start to see the transition as early as 6 months, with the tail growing in, the coat feeling a little thicker and fuller, and sometimes you see a change in texture or the coat matting easier. Because a doodle puppy coat doesn't shed out, you have to groom it out as the thicker adult coat pushes its way out, or the new coat will become severely matted with the old dead coat.
Because doodles are a mixed breed, the transition can be unique to every dog. Some transitions happen in just a few short weeks, and others can take several months. You may not see the adult coat in its full glory until close to 2 years old.
During the transition, it may be necessary for you to do a shorter trim to keep up with grooming. Sometimes taking the dog down an extra 1/2 inch at the beginning of the transition can help you get ahead of it and save the coat from getting a short puppy cut mid-transition.
Once you reach the other side of the transition, we will start to see a pattern forming on how long your doodle's coat can go between grooming, and set our schedule accordingly.
How often do I need to bring my doodle?
This varies by the doodle. The short answer is 4-6 weeks. It basically comes down to the longer you want to keep your doodle, the more frequently you need to come.
We groom more than 100 doodles, and we have 4 doodles that can make it 8 weeks between groomings. Some of our owners tell us that even brushing every day, once their doodle reaches 'X' amount of weeks(4, 5, 6, 7) they become super difficult to brush without a trim. The trick is to find the cusp of when your doodle gets there. We've had owners that want to come every 6 weeks and always leave with a shorter cut than they want, they move to 5 week appointments and it's like grooming a different dog. The hair isn't matted, brushes out easily and can be trimmed at most any length, which equals a longer doodle and a happier owner.
We have many doodles that can't go more than 4 weeks from the moment they transition. I wish I could give you a more definitive answer when you walk into the shop for the first time, but really it's a game of wait and see and let the coat tell us when it's time.
That being said, with frequency and consistency, you can train the coat to make home grooming less between visits. Many owners that have been coming on a schedule for a few years say they went from brushing 3-4 times a week between groomings to 1-2 a week with the same results.
There are several goals for setting a schedule. The most important goal is to eliminate the cycle of "I love them fluffy so I wait too long, and then they get shaved down to the skin'. Rinse. Repeat. This cycle will never correct itself, and often leads to a dog that hates grooming, grooming that costs a lot of money because of all the matting, and a coat that you have trained to just get matted and then shaved. And that's if your doodle tolerates it. We see a lot of doodles that are over grooming, and now go to the vet to be sedated and sheared like a sheep every few months. Part of the reason for this Doodle tab on this website is to help educate. I am always explaining that if you want a longer doodle, then a schedule will help accomplish that.
The second goal is to create a positive grooming experience for your doodle. No matter how gentle we are, removing mats from doodles is uncomfortable for them. In a doodle's lifetime they need in excess of 100 grooms, so grooming on a schedule before the mats arrive sets your dog up for an enjoyable spa day vs. a nightmare torture session.
The third goal is to save you money. It might sound counterproductive to say the more often you come the less money it costs you, but this really is the case. Pricing is based on how long it takes to groom the dog and the condition of its coat. A few weeks difference can make a huge difference in price.
This is the toughest thing to nail down. Because there are so many doodle mixes, it's like a wild card. I've been open 13 years and doodles are like no other breed out there. Yorkies, shihtzus, spaniels, terriers, even poodles, I can give you a price and a time without blinking. But doodles are a whole other ballgame. I've had a 12 lb mini doodle take 2 of us over 3.5 hours, and a 65 lb labradoodle that surprisingly took me under 2 hours flying solo. You just never know. We often get calls asking how much for a doodle, and all we can really do is give a price range until we've groomed the dog. We base the price on coat condition, size, temperament, and time it takes to groom.
Doodle puppies are priced differently. Because puppy fur is finer, less time is involved and therefore the price reflects that. Puppies are typically much smaller than they will be when they reach their adult coats. Also, if your puppy is in for a clean up then the price will be much lower than a full groom. As your puppy grows, and the coat matures we adjust the price accordingly.
There are so many variables that contribute, that we often double up 2 groomers on a doodle. Depending on the coat type, a doodle can take 30 min to wash, over an hour to hand dry, another 30 min to brush out and an additional hour to groom. That's a lot of patience to ask for from a dog. Having 2 groomers can shorten that time to 2 hours, and make the dog more comfortable.
Here are our pricing ranges:
Mini-doodles $55-70 Middi-doodles $65-80 Full size $75 & up
Cockapoos, Cavapoos, etc $55-$65 Maltipoos, Shipoos $50-$60
It is also important to note this price may differ from groom to groom. Unlike a yorkie that once on a schedule is fairly predictable, doodles are not. During the winter some doodle coats tangle up from snow, and in the summer from swimming. We genuinely calculate the grooming cost by the groom we did for this appointment.
I hope this has helped explain some of the most common questions with grooming. We want you to know why your friend's doodle may only take 90 minutes while yours takes 2.5 hours. Or why their dog is $20 less than your dog. Or why they barely brush their dog between grooming but yours has to be brushed often. Every doodle is really so different, and we do our very best to give you the best results for a very reasonable price. Thank you for taking the time to read this and learn about grooming your breed.